It’s amazing to me that Eli lives almost exactly on the other side of the world. Yet, our weather is shockingly similar. Right now, it feels like just 1 degree here in Cincinnati. In Eli’s province, it’s also freezing-just a tad colder (at -1). I’m starting to understand the sentiment “living in two time zones” as I frequently find myself checking the weather where Eli lives and thinking about what he might be doing. Does he have warm clothes? Is he giggling with friends? Sleeping well? Eating something he loves (which we’re told is nearly everything)?
At this point, we are somewhat used to not knowing…there are so many things we will never know. Harder yet, there are pieces of Eli’s history that he will never know. What would it be like to know nothing of where you truly came from? What would it be like to know even your birthday was very unlikely your actual date of birth? We feel it’s our obligation to track down everything we can so that someday-we can give Eli each and every bit of knowledge we know about his past. Many other adopting families share this desire and one of them pointed me in the direction of a man who locates the finding ads of abandoned children.
What are finding ads?
Since around 1999, China has been placing pages of finding ads for children who have been abandoned. It is illegal to place a child for adoption in China so families often desperately enact plans to leave their children in a very public place-in hopes they will be found as quickly as possible. Some children are left with notes, money, or even family momentos. Due to the threat of legal action, there are typically no ties to the birth parents. The finding ads are intended to give family members one final chance to come forward and reunite with the child. After the ads have run, the child is issued a certificate of abandonment and can then be adopted. This single piece of paper seals their status as an orphan while opening their future to the possibility of adoption.
Was an ad placed for Eli?
Just a few hours after submitting my request, I received a response from the man who locates these newspaper ads. Eli’s ad has been found! It will include what we believe will be the earliest picture to date (and likely that we will ever have) of him. Even in our 6 inches of snow, we’ll definitely be checking the mailbox diligently because we can’t wait to see his sweet face. Most importantly, I’m excited to have this bit of Eli’s past to share with him. In scanning his files for the necessary information, I also located the public place in which Eli was found on a google map. We’re not permitted to share his province or finding location. The spot is just about an hour from his orphanage though so I’m hopeful we’ll be able to visit (or may even have to for paperwork) when we travel.
It’s hard to admire a bustling, urban area from the pixelated screens of Google Maps. Still, it’s so easy to see that Eli’s homeland is beautiful. Even in populated areas, there are rounded green areas with twisting sidewalks and smooth lines of waterways. There are tall buildings and long rows of smaller houses. I plan to take as many pictures as I can but I have a feeling even Eli will appreciate my aerial Google view of his homeland someday…at least I hope so.